Trot Nixon and J.D. Drew have more in common, it turns out, than a similar statistical history and an inability to play a full season. Fans arenít thrilled about the prospect of either one of them roaming the outfield.
The local perception on Drew has been well-documented, and once Pirates fans got wind yesterday of Nixon possibly inking a deal with Pittsburgh, the ire flared wider than Bill Cowher's nostrils.
In his mailbag today, Post-Gazette writer Dejan Kovacevic says, "As for Nixon, suffice it to say the inbox was overflowing with anger on the subject."
He's not kidding. Check out what a Pirates fan blog called "The Parrot" had to say on the matter:
My eyes are bleeding and my heart is pounding with anger as I read that the Pirates are going after Trot Nixon. I think I just threw up a little. I had some hope that Dave Littlefield had learned his lesson. I saw the names of younger players tossed around as candidates to join the Bucs, and I thought Littlefield might actually do something borderline intelligent. I eagerly awaited the name of the player that Dejan teased us about yesterday, and I cannot accurately say how deeply disappointed I am to see that it's Nixon. Littlefield wants a 32-year-old on the downside of his career that no one else seems to be interested in. Same old same old.
Littlefield probably won't trade a starter, and will buy has-beens again this year. Nothing changes. Jeez- what kind of sick mind must I have to root for this team?
It's a popular view, it seems, in Pittsburgh, where fans expect Nixon to be the latest in a long line of aging ballplayers, a list that includes Jeromy Burnitz, Sean Casey, and Raul Mondesi.
Meanwhile, in Boston, it's the same situation with Drew, albeit to the tune of five years, $70 million, an astronomical price to pay for what very likely could end up another in an increasingly long line of expensive mistakes.
The major difference, of course, is that the Red Sox can afford, and willingly dish out, the $15 million per year Drew called for, despite the serious doubts that he can handle the supposed "pressure" of playing before a rabid fan base. They somehow can turn around and then toss $36 million at Julio Lugo, a guy who comes with plenty of defensive doubts of his own. And THIS guy is going to follow the shortstop who just put on the best defensive show Boston had ever seen at the position? This ought to go over well.
This is why it's difficult for Red Sox fans to get excited about these deals: Because every move they make these days is done with the intent to fix a previous mistake they made over the past three winters. How much more faith can they be expected to delve into a club that clearly has no problem making long-term commitments, but is even quicker to fall out of love with those deals after only one season?
Lugo becomes the second shortstop the Sox have signed to a four-year deal in the past three Decembers -- think about that for a moment -- which continues to underscore the point that whatever long-term plan the Red Sox have is one that gets rewritten day by day. Edgar Renteria today, Lugo tomorrow, and in 2008, it's anyone's guess.
Are Lugo's personality traits a problem of the past? That seems likely. However, if Rick Vaughn, the Devil Rays' vice president of media relations, told Gordon Edes, "That's the truth," one more time in explaining how great Lugo was for them, I'd start to think he wasn't, you know, telling the truth.
As for Drew, where to begin?
How can Red Sox fans not be suspicious about all things Drew? After the Renteria disaster, the last-minute Matt Clement desperation, and dealing away Doug Mirabelli before getting him back again, the market is open for questioning each and every dubious move this organization makes. The Sox might not have wanted to mortgage the future in grabbing Bobby Abreu last summer, but they have no problem committing a risky $70 million to a guy who is not much better than the one they paid less than half of that to play the same position last season.
And, of course, the biggest question surrounds his makeup, and whether the unassuming Drew can handle the pressure of playing in Boston
"Of course he can," Drew's former manager Grady Little told the Globeís Nick Cafardo. "He's an outstanding ballplayer. He can play anywhere."
Well, there's a ringing endorsement from someone all Sox fans have no problem trusting.
It's not that the quiet guys have not excelled here. You only have to look as far back as Bill Mueller to remember a fan favorite who wasn't exactly a sound bite waiting to happen. But Mueller wasn't making $70 million. And like it or not, the negative vibes coming from the Fens from Opening Day only begin at that point. When Manny Ramirez is making just $2 million more, Drew better be almost as good.
That might not be a fair to tag on a player, but they can't have it both ways. If the cash equals "respect," the fans should have every right to hold your play right up to the dollar of your over-inflated salary.
What could possibly make the Red Sox think that Drew is worth a $70 million commitment? Maybe that Wily Mo Pena can't play right field, a fact that perhaps they should have known before they traded a valuable pitcher away for him? Could that be part of the equation? And let's not forget the fact that this front office hasn't exactly had great luck with high-priced free agents, a list that includes Renteria, Clement, and the last two years of Keith Foulke's deal. Fans have every reason to be nervous that the two moves they made last night are just the latest in a long line of blunders.
But maybe, just maybe, this time, this year, these guys are the right fit ...